Elephants are revered in India, but it is also a bitter truth that we have rarely given them the veneration they deserve. One would think such a place would be the perfect place for an elephant hospital. Their mythological status is a symbol of strength, peace, and power and is celebrated in festivals and is held to be part of the identity and culture in many regions of India. But underneath the veneer of adoration lies a story of neglect and greed that does not quite reflect our actions. So the founding of India’s first-ever elephant hospital was a piece of good news amidst the tales of apathy.
It is a giant leap for the ailing and injured elephants across the country who now have access to the love and care that they deserve. This elephant hospital with advanced facilities for treatment is the culmination of years of tireless work by Wildlife SOS to save wild animals since its founding in 1995. They have rescued all kinds of animals from crocodiles, to bears, to snakes all across the country.
But rescuing and treating an elephant was a different experience altogether till they were faced with it back in 2008. And elephant needed assistance after an injury and that incident culminated in the setting up of the elephant hospital.
The Elephant Hospital Has Been A Boon For The Gods In Chains
India is considered the birthplace of taming elephants for human use, and abuse. The façade of devotion and celebration that tourists get to sees hides a tale of a heartless system that uses the elephants in their prime years and discards them once they serve their purpose. Our avowed devotion and professed love for the animals hide a sordid truth of neglect and cruelty to the animals., and the elephant hospital has come at just the right time for these noble creatures.
It has been a long journey since then and the elephant hospital run by the non-profit has rescued 26 elephants in a pitiable condition in temples and circuses. They were even rescued from highways, where they had been injured by speeding motorists, or from the street where they had been forced into begging on paved streets which harms their feet.
Each pachyderm brought to the elephant hospital brings with them a sordid take that is distressing and disheartening. Most elephants come with their bodies severely weakened by malnutrition. Most have horrible sores on their bodies, especially their delicate feet, not accustomed to walking on hot asphalt or cement.
Many animals at the elephant hospital come in for major surgery from accidents caused by reckless motorists. And they become dependent on continuous care even after they live through their initial trauma and pain. They have to be put under round-the-clock care to take care of the mental trauma that these gentle giants have suffered.
Geeta Seshamani and Kartick Satyanarayan are the founders of Wildlife SOS, the non-profit that set up the elephant hospital. An enthusiastic and devoted team of trained personnel and veterinary doctors work round the clock at the elephant hospital to look after their needs. Once their physical ailments are looked into comes the equally difficult task of relieving the mental trauma many had endured at the hands of their captors.
The only place an animal can stay happy is in the wild, and this is especially true for an animal as intelligent as an elephant. They are accustomed to living in closely-knit families.
Wildlife SOS Hospital
The caregivers at the elephant hospital have over time learned and evolved to empathize with the issues these elephants face, and have improved with every elephant they have cared for. The elephants are showcased as royal and magnificent bear inhuman torture that forces them into submission. The Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital is specially designed and equipped to treat and care for sick, injured, traumatized, and elderly elephants.
The inauguration of the Wildlife SOS Elephant Hospital was attended by ardent animal lovers, the press, government officials, and several celebrities like Downtown Abbey’s Lesley Nicol, passionate about their compassion for animals.
The elephant hospital has every advanced equipment necessary for the elephants’ treatment. They have a dedicated pathology lab, digital radiology, ultrasound equipment, X-ray machine, laser therapy, and hydrotherapy pool, among other modern treatment aids. A special hoist helps lift these giants and place them in their treatment area. There is also a scale to weigh them and an infrared camera to monitor them at night.
The hospital also trains and gives awareness training on managing elephants and treating them with the best available methods. It has turned into a place of both healing and learning for the gentle giants.